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Pale, Hale and Definitely Not Kale

Cauliflower is a rising nutritional star – and just what the doctor ordered

By Melanie Peters   |   November 02, 2015

When it comes to getting the biggest bang out of your nutritional buck, the rule of thumb is go with color. Flashy-hued vegetables and fruits are high in vitamin A, responsible for forming and maintaining healthy skin and teeth, and as a cancer fighter, there’s evidence that the dark pigments in plant foods, called carotenoids, are converted into beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects cells from being damaged.

The superstars of colorful vegetables are leafy greens: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach and, of course, kale. Not only are they high vitamin A, but vitamins B, especially folic acid, K and calcium. Kale has become the poster vegetable of healthy eating. From salads to smoothies to tote bags and tee shirts, it seems to have overgrown the healthy eating scene.

But there’s another vegetable now making headlines, not only for its nutritional value but for its versatility: cauliflower. While it seems counterintuitive – it’s a white vegetable after all – cauliflower is a member of the brassicaceae family and therefore has a similar nutritional profile to broccoli and other cabbages. Although we’re most accustomed to seeing the white version of cauliflower in produce sections, cauliflower actually comes in a variety of colors – even purple.

cauliflower pizza

Cauliflower is gaining well-deserved recognition as a kale alternative, in part, because it can be used so many different ways. Its relatively mild flavor takes well to spices. It stands up to a variety of preparations, from roasting to boiling, soups to salads. Looking for a lower fat alternative to mashed potatoes? Pureed cauliflower does the trick. Want to sneak some extra nutrition into your kids’ macaroni and cheese? Substitute some of the pasta with chopped cauliflower. Need a gluten-free alternative to pizza crust? Yup, you guessed it.

With the holiday season about to start, many of us will be looking for healthy alternatives to seasonal favorites as well as recipes that can feed and satisfy a crowd. Here are some cauliflower recipes that are sure to be welcome at any holiday gathering and help beat kale fatigue.

Cauliflower, White Bean, and Feta Salad
 (Courtesy of Bon Appetit ): Salads are a great way to bulk up a holiday buffet. This flavorful salad is easy to prepare and can feed a crowd without breaking the bank.

Mediterranean Cauliflower Pizza (Courtesy of Eating Well): Nothing beats pizza for serving a crowd, young and old. Plus, you can easily make it a party by providing a variety of toppings for people to personalize their pizzas.

Cauliflower Gratin (Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa): Gratin potatoes are a holiday favorite for a reason. Nothing says “holiday” like creamy, comforting potatoes covered in cheese. This version lightens the carb load by eliminating potatoes, but keeps the comfort with a creamy Gruyere sauce.